College seniors are ordering caps and gowns and dealing with the overall panic that sets in before graduation. Soon, school will be behind the class of 2016, and what lies ahead may be less than certain.
Securing employment is one of the most stressful parts of graduating from college — but it doesn’t have to be. The National Center for Education Statistics puts the employment rate for young graduates at 69 percent.
These tips can help recent grads put their degree to work.
Be curious during interviews
Expressing enthusiasm during a job interview shows employers that you're interested in more than just the position. It shows you're also interested in the company as a whole, and where you fit in it. Questions impress a potential employer, and they help you. An interivew is as much a chance for you to interview them, and find out if that company is a place you can see yourself building a long-term career. Automotive entrepreneur Dave Cantin's advice to new grads? “Be curious" and "ask as many questions as you can.”
Seize every opportunity
In the words of The Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. Only 51 percent of graduates said their job was related to their college major, according to a 2014 survey by Careerbuilder. The reality is, every opportunity won't be your No. 1 choice, but every opportunity is a learning experience.
Can't get a job right away? “Join professional organizations,” suggests Helene Cruz, director of career counseling at Pace University. For those getting a late start in resume building, taking positions and joining professional groups offers the chance to fill blank spots while learning more about a particular industry — as well as yourself.
Don’t let lack of experience stop you
Sometimes, a thin resume may stop recent grads from even applying to jobs that interest them, but a lack of relevant work shouldn't deter you from trying, says Cantin. "Just because someone interned in that position doesn’t mean they’re better or have better qualities in that position over somebody that hasn’t done it yet. It It just means that somebody has more experience.” It’s crucial to show employers that you have the skills and the personality to work efficiently.
Turn that internship into full-time work
Universities are constantly stressing the importance of interning throughout your academic career. Not only does having an internship under your belt make you a competitive job candidate, it could also open up doors for you within the company. “The best advice I could give to somebody while they're interning is to stress your ability so that your manager knows that you are interested in a full-time position,” Cantin says.
Even if you don't get a job after your internship ends, make sure to stay in touch with those supervisors through LinkedIn or Facebook. Cruz says, “LinkedIn is a great tool. Every now and then drop somebody a line.”
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Take advantage of alumni career services
Career services can be a huge help for recent graduates looking for employment. Career counselors have the resources to tap into alumni networks, and they receive job offers daily for students and alumni. If full-time jobs seem hard to come by, make an appointment with the next available career counselor at your university ASAP. “Our advice: start early,” says Cruz.